Legendary singer/songwriter Robert Nesta Marley (1945-1981) was born on this day in Jamaica, West Indies. He revolutionized music by bringing reggae to the mainstream.
"Reggae music, soul music, rock music - every song is a sign," he said as an explanation of the spiritual blend of his music and life.
At 19, Marley formed the singing group The Wailers, named because "ghetto sufferers are born wailing." A few years later, he converted to Rastafarian, a mystical belief in unification of displaced Africans that included a special Ital (pure) diet, dreadlocks as purification, and ganja, "the weed of wisdom."
Marley blended his Rastafarian belief into his music, singing from his heart about brotherhood, determination, and justice.
"Man is a universe within himself," he said.
Marley wrote the international hit Stir It Up for Johnny Nash in 1972, then took the world by storm with two critically-acclaimed albums, Catch A Fire, and Burnin', with the hits Get Up, Stand Up and I Shot the Sheriff, a big hit for Eric Clapton who described Marley as "a great lyric writer, a musical genius, and a great leader of men."
With the infectious rhythm and passion of reggae, Marley became a symbol of expression for oppressed people everywhere. He was awarded a United Nations Peace Medal in 1978 for humanitarianism and received Jamaica's Order of Merit a month before his cancer death. He was buried with his Gibson guitar and Bible.
"One good thing about music when it hits you, you feel no pain. So hit me with music," he once said.
Solutions are a revolution.